US-Russia Deal on Syria Contains Opportunity — and Risk
US Secretary of State John Kerry holds a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Sept. 14 after talks on how to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. (LARRY DOWNING/AFP/Getty Images)
September 16, 2013
| Middle East and North Africa, Russia and Central Asia, The Americas
Culminating three days of discussions in Geneva, senior U.S. and Russian officials announced they had reached agreement on a process leading to the ultimate removal and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons. Implementing the agreement will be dangerous, time consuming and complex and does nothing to resolve the larger problems of resolving Syria’s two-and-a-half-year civil war.
The deal provides the first concrete attempt since the war began to deal with the massive chemical weapons stockpile amassed by the Syrian government with extensive Russian guidance. Some of those weapons were used to kill an estimated 1,400 civilians on Aug. 21. The agreement is simple in its wording but opens the door to extraordinarily complex activity once the United Nations approves it and implementation begins. In addition to the daunting logistical challenges, Syrian cheating cannot be ruled out, as LIGNET explains.
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